by Alex Richardson
I've won over 30 industry awards for my clients and companies and I've served as a judge for six industry award events. I would summarize my advice on how to improve your chances to win into a simple concept that drives my business career: Follow the three Fs - fun, fame and fortune.
Fun: As judges, we read dozens of award applications. We tend to read submissions after work, on the train or on weekends when time permits - and we are probably sleep deprived.
Judges need to be entertained in order to capture their full attention.
Ensure that your award application is created with the proper balance of data, i.e., supply the relevant answers to the contest questions as well as provide thoughtful creative content to support your data: website links, good photos, videos. For example, when we submitted the Ralph Lauren Interactive Store Window application in 2006, we included dozens of photos, videos and media clips in order to help the judges understand how the application worked.
US Open Interactive Window August 2006
Ralph Lauren Store Madison Avenue NYC
Interactive Store Window
New Bond Street London, 2007
Fame: Fame is not only about how your project generated positive press or awareness, but how did your application change the world? If your award application doesn't have the wow factor, don’t waste your time on the award application.
Being the first to innovate for a given category is key to winning.
We could have saved time and money and created a virtual shop that promoted the Ralph Lauren US Open website content (without transactions). Instead, we engineered a simple way to mount a standard POS credit card reader on the front of the touchscreen store window ... outdoors. And we did this in a matter of weeks, not months. We were the first in the world to allow customers to order store merchandise after store hours when the store was closed. By innovating, we captured the imagination of worldwide press and elevated the brand as technology leader — totally in alignment with the new generation of digital, multi-channel consumers.
Fortune: Many award applications talk about "how did your application create a positive (ROI) –return on investment? Did my application add incremental revenues to you or your client?"
It's a powerful advantage to your award application if you can demonstrate a simple ROI to the judges. But for many emerging technologies, it’s not about ROI, it’s about ROO (return on objective).
Great brands focus on key objectives. David Lauren's objective is to use technology and innovation "as a way to tell a story about the brand." If a brand tells a relevant brand story (and creates awesome products), we increase the sales of our merchandise without spending millions on traditional print, online and TV advertising.
Our Ralph Lauren Interactive Store Window was the first stepping stone on how we wanted to break down the barrier between the retail storefront and the digital website and let customers browse and shop in the store and then complete the transaction at the store window or at their home or office computer.
We were totally customer focused and put our rich digital assets in front of the customer at the point of decision-making-the store window. (Our US Open Interactive Window was almost two years before Steve Jobs launched his Apple App Store and smart phones took over the role of kiosks.)
The results: We increased sales inside the stores and website, generated massive worldwide press, and elevated the brand as the #1 digital global apparel brand in the world. We also changed the way that retailers use digital content inside of retail stores. I’m not surprised today to see digital signage, interactive windows, 3D displays, QR codes and other innovative apps promoted at many stores from New York to Shanghai.
Yes, we won six industry awards, including multiple "Best of Show" awards and Industry Innovator of the Year Award.
Alex Richardson is managing director of Selling Machine Partners and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.